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The LiederNet Archive

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Ballad The Tunning of Elinor

Language: English

Tell you I will,
If that ye will
A-while be still,
Of a comely Jill
That dwelt on a hill:
She is somewhat sage
And well worn in age:
For her visage
It would assuage
A man's courage.
Droopy and drowsy,
Scurvy and lowsy,
Her face all bowsy,
Comely crinkled,
Wondrously wrinkled
Like a roast pig's ear,
Bristled with hair.
Her nose some deal hookéd,
And camously-crookéd,
Never stopping,
But ever dropping;
Her skin loose and slack,
Grained like a sack;
With a crooked back.
Jawed like a jetty;
A man would have pity
To see how she is gumméd,
Fingered and thumbéd,
Gently jointed,
Greased and anointed
Up to the knuckles;
Like as they were with buckles
Together made fast.
Her youth is far past!

And yet she will jet
Like a jollivet,
In her furréd flocket,
And gray russet rocket,
With simper and cocket.
Her hood of Lincoln green
It has been hers, I ween,
More than forty year;
And so doth it appear,
For the green bare threadés
Look like sere weedés,
Withered like hay,
The wool worn away.
And yet, I dare say
She thinketh herself gay
Upon the holiday
When she doth her array
And girdeth on her geets
Stitched and pranked with pleats;
Her kirtle, Bristol-red,
With clothes upon her head
That weigh a sow of lead,
Writhen in wondrous wise
After the Saracen's guise,
With a whim-wham
Knit with a trim-tram
Upon her brain-pan;
Like an Egyptian
Cappéd about,
When she goeth out.

And this comely dame,
I understand, her name
Is Elinor Rumming,
At home in her wonning;
And as men say
She dwelt in Surrey
In a certain stead
Beside Leatherhead.
She is a tonnish gib,
The devil and she be sib.
But to make up my tale
She breweth nappy ale,
And maketh thereof pot-sale
To travellers, to tinkers,
To sweaters, to swinkers,
And all good ale-drinkers,
That will nothing spare
But drink till they stare
And bring themselves bare,
With 'Now away the mare!
And let us slay care'.
As wise as an hare!
Come who so will
To Elinor on the hill
With 'Fill the cup, fill!'
And sit there by still,
Early and late.
Thither cometh Kate,
Cisly, and Sare,
With their legs bare,
They run in all haste,
Unbraced and unlaced;
With their heelés daggéd,
Their kirtles all jaggéd,
Their smocks all to-raggéd,
With titters and tatters,
Bring dishes and platters,
With all their might running
To Elinor Rumming
To have of her tunning.

She lendeth them on the same,
And thus beginneth the game.
Some wenches come unlaced
Some housewives come unbraced
Some be flybitten,
Some skewed as a kitten;
Some have no hair-lace,
Their locks about their face
Such a rude sort
To Elinor resort
From tide to tide,
Abide, abide!
And to you shall be told
How her ale is sold
To Maud and to Mold.
Some have no money
That thither comé
For their ale to pay.
That is a shrewd array!
Elinor sweared, 'Nay,
Ye shall not bear away
Mine ale for nought,
By him that me bought! '
With 'Hey, dog, hey!
Have these hogs away! '
With 'Get me a staffé
The swine eat my draffé!
Strike the hogs with a club,
They have drunk up my swilling-tub!'

Then thither came drunken Alice,
And she was full of talés,
Of tidings in Walés,
And of Saint James in Galés,
And of the Portingalés,
With 'Lo, Gossip, I wis,
Thus and thus it is:
There hath been great war
Between Temple Bar
And the Cross in Cheap,
And there came an heap
Of mill-stones in a rout '.
She speaketh thus in her snout,
Snivelling in her nose
As though she had the pose.

'Lo, here is an old tippet,
An ye will give me a sippet
Of your stale ale,
God send you good sale! '
'This ale', said she, 'is noppy;
Let us suppé and soppy
And not spill a droppy,
For, so may I hoppy,
It cooleth well my croppy ,
Then began she to weep
And forthwith fell asleep.
('With Hey! and with Ho!
Sit we down a-row,
And drink till we blow.')
Now in cometh another rabble:
And there began a fabble,
A clattering and babble
They hold the highway,
They care not what men say,
Some, loth to be espied,
Start in at the back-side
Over the hedge and pale,
And all for the good ale.

(With Hey! and with Ho!
Sit we down a-row,
And drink till we blow.)

Their thirst was so great
They asked never for meat,
But drink, still drink,
And 'Let the cat wink,
Let us wash our gummés
From the dry crummés!'
Some brought a wimble,
Some brought a thimble,
Some brought this and that
Some brought I wot ne'er what.
And all this shift they make
For the good ale sake.
'With Hey! and with Ho!
Sit we down a-row,
And drink till we blow,
And pipe "Tirly Tirlow!",
      *       *       *
But my fingers itch,
I have written too much
Of this mad mumming
Of Elinor Rumming!
Thus endeth the geste
Of this worthy feast.


camously-crookéd -- snub-nosed
cocket -- coquetry
daggéd -- muddy
draffé -- hog-wash
Egyptian -- gipsy
fabble -- jabbering
Galés -- Galicia
geets -- clothes
gib -- cat
hoppy -- have good luck
jetty -- a projection
jollivet -- gay young girl
kirtle -- skirt
Mold -- Molly
nappy/noppy -- foaming
Portingalés -- Portuguese
pose -- catarrh
pranked -- decked
rocket -- dress
sib -- akin
stead -- place
swinkers -- toilers
tonnish -- beery
trim-tram -- pretty trifle
tunning -- brewing
whim-wham -- trinket
wimble -- gimlet
wonning -- dwelling

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Text added to the website: 2010-04-10 00:00:00.

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:03:38

Line count: 198
Word count: 860

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